Sunday, March 04, 2007

Romney Wins CPAC Straw Poll

After a well-received speech at CPAC on Friday, Mitt Romney won the CPAC straw poll. It's important to note that these straw polls are not scientific and should clearly be taken with a grain of salt (especially considering the emphasis Romney put on getting out the vote), but, that said, I think it's a pretty remarkable achievement for Romney, who has had a string of pretty bad weeks on the campaign trail. What a difference a weekend makes. The final results from the CPAC straw poll (out of a total of 1,705 voters) were:
  1. Mitt Romney - 21%
  2. Rudy Giuliani - 17%
  3. Sam Brownback - 15%
  4. New Gingrich - 14%
  5. John McCain - 12%
The press Romney has received in conservative circles since his speech has to be pretty gratifying for his camp and definitely gives him some momentum heading into March (I'm sure he's enjoying some of his headlines in the MSM as well).

In spite of losing to Romney, I think Giuliani's showing is still surprisingly strong considering the audience he was addressing. Brownback and Gingrich both fared as well as one would have expected, as did McCain (which is precisely why he didn't make time to attend). What I found surprising is Duncan Hunter's disappearance. This is an audience one would have expected him to pull a lot of support from. I have a feeling Romney might have stolen some of his thunder.

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Blogger Terrence said...

Didn't Romney fly in a bunch of college kids? I mean I heard his PAID volunteers were in the 200's. You subtract the numbers of volunteers that he PAID to come with him to vote and he would not have won at all. Plus there is some discrepency as to the legitimacy of the Romney votes. I mean Giuliani didn't have but 20 volunteers there and still pulled off second. Romney is pretty pathetic if you think about it. I would say that this vote was actually a win for Giuliani and Brownback. Giuliani won conservatives over, even after being a staunch liberal, and Brownback came clear out of nowhere. I guess that this is just a sign of where the Romney campaign is headed. Voters tend to not think much of a flip flopper.

3:53 AM  
Anonymous braden said...

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."

9:39 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Terrence - I alluded to Romney's heavy GOTV emphasis with my link in the first paragraph and certainly mentioned that the results should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, I still think his showing is impressive. The conservative media almost across the board lauded his speech and he was pulling applause from a lot more people than his bussed in volunteers. This weekend was a good one for Romney.

PS - I don't think it's accurate to say he "paid" volunteers though. He bussed interested volunteers in and covered their registration and lodging.

Braden - Romney will certainly be required to reassure conservatives about his policy shifts throughout the primaries. It is certainly one challenge of his candidacy and perhaps some will never be won over, but I think it would be a mistake to underestimate him.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous BizJet said...

Perhaps even more impressive than the CPAC straw poll victory, which was significant but non-scientific, was Romney's victory in a Los Angeles Times poll of Republican National Committee members, which was very scientific and is laid out in great detail in an attachment to the article. (Go to the following link to read the story, "Poll: Insiders favor Clinton, Romney in 2008":,1,16525.story?coll=la-news-politics-national&track=crosspromo".

The point is that Romney is doing his homework -- and doing it well -- with those who matter most this early in the game. The man is no fool -- in fact, he has established himself as one of the top business strategists in the nation, and he showed certainly his skill in Massachusetts and the Olympics.

As for the "flip-flop" label, as someone who's watched him for decades, that label is simply off-base. If anything, it's the Massachusetts liberal electorate who should feel like they were head-faked by an opponent as crafty as Michael Jordan. If you take the time to look at Mitt Romney over a long, long'll see that today's positions are much, much closer to his true beliefs.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous A.T. said...

Marc - Theorizing that Romney may have "stolen" some of Duncan Hunter's thunder is ironic - stealing doesn't generally include spending $350,000. At $1,750 per bought vote, he's going to need one whopper of a war chest to win the whole enchilada. Spending so much on a near-meaningless straw poll seems a little desperate.

Also, "he was pulling applause from a lot more people than his bussed in volunteers" ? Are you talking about the 11% (a lower number than McCain) that he didn't pay for directly, or were there others in the crowd who cheered for him and then voted for someone else?

bizjet - I can't tell if you're praising or criticizing Romney by saying "it's the Massachusetts liberal electorate who should feel like they were head-faked by an opponent as crafty as Michael Jordan". Last I heard, few see the word "crafty" as a good thing, though it's the norm in some professions. I'd be surprised if Michael Jordan would take it as a compliment.

I'm not buying the "wise as serpents, harmless as doves" bit either - it's a stretch to say that deceiving one's electorate is a benevolent thing to do.

11:55 AM  
Anonymous A.T. said...

sorry - I realized I had my numbers switched with the 11% purchased and 10% genuine vote. My bad.

Wouldn't the 17% Giuliani got without (he claims) spending a dime mean that Mitt only proved his ability to throw cash? If Giuliani is being better received than Mitt amongst self-proclaimed conservatives, all I can say is Good Luck. Maybe your guy's vacuous "hope and freedom" schtick isn't intended to win new votes (like the way Obama is using it) - maybe Mitt's using it to keep his loyal following from becoming too disheartened.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

I love it when the bloggers for other candidates (Brownback, Tancredo) come to knock Romney. They are always so cheery and bubbly. It's like getting a ray of sunshine everytime I read them. Nice try guys, but Romney is still winning.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous A.T. said...

You wish you could dismiss me that easily. I'm not a blogger for any candidate. I know it's got to be hard for law-students to imagine a debate where the opponent isn't using some canned tactic that can be replied to with another canned tactic.

Sucks for you, but I'm just the kind of guy who's going to be a big thorn in Romney's side. A thrity-something Mormon who thinks Romney's a fraud, and I wish he'd never thrown his hat in the ring, because he has no choice but to represent the church, and I don't think he's capable of doing a good job of it.

It frustrates me to see so many members of the LDS Church hoodwinked into believing the neocon tripe.

FYI -I also think that Iraq was a fool's quest from the beginning, and Bush is way too liberal, including his Medicare spending, "No Child", and his interventionist/imperialist foreign policy. Hate to say it, but in the past, his foreign policy would have been considered liberal - now it's the norm for "conservatives" because of the Neo-con Con. So far, Romney's the perfect Neo-Conservative - used to be liberal, but saw political advantages to siding with conservatives.

Just saying it like it is. If you want a feel good pep-talk, go watch Obama, Romney, or an Amway convention on YouTube.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

A.T. - You seem so personally invested in this that it undermines your credibility.

I acknowledged Romney's heavy volunteer and GOTV efforts upfront and I recognized that Giuliani's 17% was incredibly significant (even more impressive was Giuliani besting Romney 33% to 30% when 1st and 2nd choices were combined). I don't think either of those facts diminish Romney's successes this weekend though. CPAC typically represents a cross-section of the most hardcore conservatives in the GOP base... conservatives among whom Romney has had to make up probably the most ground. I think his 21%, regardless of the fact that it was comprised of some of his bussed in volunteers, represents a remarkable achievement for him. Compare the Spartanburg straw and CPAC straw polls... Duncan Hunter is neck and neck with Giuliani and McCain in that one, and here he doesn't even register as a blip on the screen. Romney, meanwhile, finished a distant 5th, whereas here he pulls in first. I don't think it a stretch of the imagination to say he likely pulled from Hunter supporters (take Ann Coulter, for instance, embarrassment that she is notwithstanding, she said although Hunter would be her preferred candidate, she was going with Romney).

I'll agree with you that straw polls certainly aren't the most meaningful things in the world, but the win did allow Romney to grab headlines and grab some much-needed positive press. The conservative media across the board lauded his speech over every other candidates. Romney spent a lot of money at CPAC, but he probably deems it money well-spent. He has a serious name-recognition deficit to make up on McCain and Giuliani, and events like CPAC are one way to do it.

There are certainly a lot of legitimate concerns and issues that can be raised regarding Romney and his candidacy. Speaking for myself, that's why I participate on this blog. I'm undecided on a 2007 candidate and enjoy discussing the campaigns. Instead of lowering yourself to hyperbolic smears (e.g., Romney's a "fraud" and "is not capable of doing a good job"), how about you try engaging in productive discourse.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

a.t. - I love the humility with which you present yourself("I'm just the kind of guy who's going to be a big thorn in Romney's side."). Isn't that overstating your case? Or perhaps you really are that big?

Unfortunately, your argument is faulty. I think that many LDS see a platform for social conservatism that best promotes the values they hold. Perhaps they aren't Goldwater/Bucchannon conservatives like yourself. However, your rhetoric imputes some sort of naivette or bad motive for voting for candidates who best promote their values. That those values don't perfectly align with your own doesn't signify anything more than disagreement in a free society, much less bad faith or ignorance.

Additionally, Romney's conversion would seem more disingenuous if he truly were following the political winds, which as far as I can tell have been blowing left of late. The fact that he has moved right, in the face of those winds seems more in line with something more substantial than political opportunism.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous A.T. said...

You're right - I do need to be more productive in my comments. I'm emotionally invested in this not because I'm for any candidate in particular - right now I'm just against Romney.

I think changing views just in time for a presidential bid shows a lack of integrity. The fact that he ever held his previous views on abortion and gay marriage makes me cringe when I hear him called a "devout Mormon" in the media. The LDS Church doesn't dictate politics to members, but it does speak specifically about things politics affects "We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society." - reading this and watching Mitt Romney debate Ted Kennedy back in the day brings the word "fraud" to mind. Either he was dishonest then, or he's dishonest now. If he has really repented of his previously held views, he hasn't conveyed it well.

As a Mormon, I'm supposed to be careful about how I judge. And the judging is obligatory.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous A.T. said...

Kyle - If my rhetoric imputes some sort of naivette or bad motive for voting for candidates who best promote their values, then I'm communicating my point clearly. Another way would be to say these folks are duped.

The fact that he has moved right, in the face of those leftist winds seems nothing more than political opportunism, because if he was any further left previous to a few years ago, he would have had to move to the West Coast.

When I say I'm just the type that's going to be a thorn, I don't intend myself exclusively. I'm talking about the fairly large number who will denounce Romney at the top of their lungs when they get a good look at what he's been up to the past fifteen years. Send Ron Paul or Alan Keyes , Pat Buchanan or any other fairly well spoken conservative to UVSC to debate him and he'll be lunch in Utah County - because of guys like me. Most folks don't pay much attention to politics until the last minute. When that minute comes, I think Romney's in for a surprise in Utah.

You've read me as a Goldwater/Buchanan type. Close, but not quite. No Eagle Forum devotee here. I'm more of a Rod Dreher, Hugh Nibley, Wendell Berry, agrarian type, with a shot of "there are no conspiracy theories in the Book of Mormon, there are only conspiracy facts" Ezra Taft Benson type thrown in there for good measure.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

a.t.'s comments are funny to me. I think his comments can be summed up as a parallel to the "He's not black enough" comments that have been thrown towards Barack Obama. In Romney's case, for a.t., it's "He's not Mormon enough." It reflects a bitterness that Romney is not what was hoped for instead of evaluating Romney for what he is. Indeed it reflects a form of religious bias: evaluating Romney by a different standard than other candidates because of his religion. It is a sad thing to so openly display.

Not to mention openly blasting LDS voters as naive and ignorant. Take a bow, a.t.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

You may disagree with Romney's former views on abortion and gay rights, and perhaps they are out of step with many in the Church, but they are clearly views that can be held by members in good standing. I think your insinuations that they are not are unfounded.

While the Church "opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions" it also "has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion." Under the Church's current position, one can be personally opposed to abortion while believing it should remain, in Romney's words, "safe and legal." The fact that Romney is a former stake president who held precisely such views is a testament to that.

I think a similar case can be made for support of gay rights. One can believe that homosexuality is a sin, but still support equality for gays in society. Romney has never been a proponent of gay marriage, which is the only policy-related issue the Church has come out publicly for or against.

Whether or not you would feel comfortable voting for someone holding these views is an entirely different issue. As is whether or not you feel his "conversion" on these issues is sincere (or whether he ever "sincerely" held these views to begin with). I think these inquiries speak to whether Romney is a principled candidate or is simply shifting his views out of political expedience. Romney is doing his best to convince people he is sincere, whether conservatives will end up believing him remains to be seen.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

A.T. - Hugh Nibley was famously a staunch Democrat by the way.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous A.T. said...

I apologize for not knowing how to make links to these. I've only recently entered the "blogosphere" and I don't know all the tricks yet. So that the links don't run off the page and get lost, I've had to put returns in them


If you want to go through the mental gymnastics to find some difference between "Same-Sex Marriage" and "Civil Unions", go ahead, knock yourself out.

Not that it really helps though:




quote from previous link:
"PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Would you extend the same argument against same-gender marriage to civil unions or some kind of benefits short of marriage?

ELDER WICKMAN: One way to think of marriage is as a bundle of rights associated with what it means for two people to be married. What the First Presidency has done is express its support of marriage and for that bundle of rights belonging to a man and a woman. The First Presidency hasn’t expressed itself concerning any specific right. It really doesn’t matter what you call it. If you have some legally sanctioned relationship with the bundle of legal rights traditionally belonging to marriage and governing authority has slapped a label on it, whether it is civil union or domestic partnership or whatever label it’s given, it is nonetheless tantamount to marriage. That is something to which our doctrine simply requires us to speak out and say, “That is not right. That’s not appropriate.”

FYI - I know Nibley was a Democrat. If you read "Approaching Zion" you'll find Nibley very effectively damning business management types like Romney, and those who zealously follow them. So that I can have a say in local primaries, I'm a registered Democrat at the moment. I've generally voted for third parties though.;



If rolling over and allowing state funding doesn't at least raise some eyebrows in light of this quote, then we're just not reading things the same.

"the Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions."






again, sorry for the sloppy links

10:42 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

A.T. - First of all, do us all a favor by hyperlinking (here's how). Secondly, this blog probably isn't the best place to be having a doctrinal discussion on Mormonism.

To respond quickly, you keep changing your arguments while not responding to mine. Without any contortion, one can believe in gay rights without sacrificing any doctrinal Mormon beliefs. If you define gay rights to mean support for civil unions (as you have), the Oaks and Wickman interview doesn't represent an official Church position on the issue. The First Presidency has publicly supported a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but one can even oppose that without being out of line with the Church belief. Policy disagreements are a different beast than doctrinal disagreements. You'll notice in that same Oaks interview, Oaks refers to opposition to the Constitutional amendment on federalism grounds as "legitimate."

On the abortion issue, you seem not to understand the difference between personal decisions and policy-making that the Church is outlining. While the Church "opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience, and counsels its members not to submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions" it also "has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion."

Moreover, the Church explicitly grants members who are elected officials enormous policy-making leeway in their elected duties: "Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent."

2:53 AM  
Anonymous A.T. said...

first, thanks for the hyperlink instructions.

I guess you're right - he's got a lot of room to move as far as the LDS Church is officially concerned. Doesn't mean his views are correct though. Israel gets what Israel wants. It's happened before.

If Mitt wins, I'll buy Marc Kyle and David all a steak dinner. (I know one of you personally, and I'll put this on my calendar so I remember). Have fun.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Israel said...

I've been enjoying the ping-pong, I think both sides have points worth discussing (though I admit I see little "real" discussion going on). Just a comment to a.t.: Wasn't the straw poll taken near the beginning of the conference before Romney or Giulliani spoke? This would explain why most of the room was cheering for romney when he spoke, but voted for someone else. His name recognition is still very low. As has been said before, when people come to know him, they like him. Also, judging by the luke warm repsonse to giulliani's speach and the opposite response to Romney's, if the poll had been taken at the end of the conference, I think we would have seen a much larger gap between romney and his fellow candidates (in his favor).

12:41 PM  

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